Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Brown, A. Page, Architect (firm); Arthur Page Brown (architect)

Dates: [unspecified], demolished 1906

2 stories

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1101 California Street
Lower Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108

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The Towne House was located on the southwest corner of California and Taylor Streets.


Architect A. Page Brown (1859-1896) designed this residence for Alban Nelson Towne (1829-1896) in the Colonial Revival Style, one of the first examples in the city. Brown, a New Yorker recently transplanted to San Francisco, kept current with the latest stylistic trends in architecture, and helped originate one, the Mission Revival Style. Brown searched for original and authentic American architectural styles, modes of expression that would represent the varied identities of the diverse, increasingly powerful and self-aware United States of the 1880s and 1890s.

Building History

Alban Nelson Towne worked, by 1887, as the General Manager of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, and lived at the Palace Hotel. (See San Francisco Directory, 1887, p. 1160.). Four years later, he had been elevated to Second Vice-President and General Manager, Southern Pacific Company, and, with this promotion, he moved to a new residence at 1101 California Street. (See San Francisco Directory, 1891, p. 1356.)

After his death in 1896, his widow was listed as living in the house at 1101 California Street. (See San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1896, p. 1542.)


The Towne House was lost in the Earthquake and Fire of 04/18-19/1906. Only the Ionic columns and entablature framing its front door survived. These entryway remnants were removed and reconstructed on the northwest shore of Lloyd Lake in Golden Gate Park. It became known as the "Portal to the Past." The entablature's balustrade on top was removed when it was rebuilt in the park.

PCAD id: 21452